Kitchen Still #11

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November

The focus was once again on the single dishes and not on the whole so we ended up with a rather funny menu:

Sweet potato and fig salad ( ottolenghi “jerusalem” )
Baked pumpkin with orange zest & bred crumbs ( nigel slater “tender” )
Paratha flat bread filled with potatoes and coriander

So all in all a very earthy and also a very spicy evening, since every single dish had fresh chilies in it. But not bad at all!

The star of the evening was certainly ottolenghis Sweet potato and fig salad with spring onions, chilies and reduced balsamic vinegar.

Indian flat bread is something one should make more often. We made paratha with a filling of mashed potatoes, chilies  and coriander.
Accompanied with a salad this would be a very nice dinner on it's own.


The third dish was baked butternut squash with breadcrumbs, rosemary, chilies  and orange zest.

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Making "bräzeli" on the fire

Cooking in the garden or outdoors is one of the best things ever. As much as I love summer I have to admit these autumn with crisp air and colorful leaves whirling through the air are beautiful days to be spent in the garden.

Obliviously there must be a fire to warm you.
Last thursdays we spent the whole afternoon in the garden. There lot's of work to be done before winter, like planting bulbs, turning compost and bringing out some cow-dung .
The boys were in charge of the fire and it seems they enjoyed it big time. Best thing was that my friend bought a "bräzeli" iron which we tested, so 4 o'clock teatime was warm "brätzeli" straight from the fire an black tea. Lovely!




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Sepia sessions

Huh, it has been quiet around here … First there was too much work and then a long and lovely holiday with lot's of gardening and not so much cooking going on - well we did cook a lot but we stuck to tried and tested Sardinian classics.

But one extraordinary thing did happen - Shane has recently been very keen on cooking, he can do his own pasta and loves to fry eggs.
One evening in Sardinia they were drawing the sepias we had bought earlier at the fishmonger but after a while he got bored and said he'd rather do some cooking. So Kevin said he could help gutting the sepias and believe it or not, he was into that.
sepias are a wonderful thing to touch and work with, no wonder he quite liked doing it. They are wonderful animals, we actually met one just the other day while snorkeling.
He was OK taking the skin of but when it came to pulling off the head he was struggling a bit but in the end he gutted and cooked a whole sepia. Oh and he even tried a tiny bit. Seemed like he did not hate it too much, - who knows maybe one day ……

Sepia drawings:

The gutting:



Preparing:

The tasting:

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Mondays classes - summer edition

The june edition of our Monday classes looked like it would be a difficult one. Shortly before the summer holidays. The weeks days packed with school theaters and such. We were all to busy to look at cookbooks. With a garden full of berries I wanted to do some interesting jams but realized that I don't have any good recipes to try.
Funny enough this turned out to be one of the best monday classes yet. I finally learned to make a decent cazpacio, we discovered smitten kitchen's lovely onion tart made a lentil berry salad and we found the best every berry tart ( thanks to nigel slater ) only oscar martis sweet apricot knödel weren't really worth the effort.
But this was maybe because we only ate them the next day.
We also preserved lemons but they are not yet ready to use.

The recipe for this cazpacio, and the two tarts in the next post.

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Monday classes : Japanese

Japanisch

Monday classes returns, as Umi is back from her two month stay in Japan! So our first session back in May was dedicated to the Japanese kitchen.
Since some of us don't like raw fish too much, we went for veggie dishes. Umi had the lead and dinner turned out amazing.

We made tempura, something I was desperate to learn since a long time, carrot tuna salad, edamame, salad and pickles. For dessert we had watermelon gelatin und a green tea crème brûlée.

Mondayclasses Japanese  006Mondayclasses Japanese  014

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A perfect Picnic and a lovely vegetable salad

I have been asked what to take for the perfect picnic by a Swiss newspaper this week. I don't do proper picnic that often, but when we eat in the garden that is sort of a picnic. In the the beginning we had pretty elaborate picnics where we brought along lots of crazy things that we had prepared in advance. Nowadays we usually try to keep it more simple.

So what is essential for a good picnic?


For me it's all about sitting in the green, chatting, enjoying the summer heat, maybe have a fire going or some lanterns on.
I do want our picnics to look good. I hate all the plastic garbage that you end up with when you just go to the supermarket and buy a few ready made things.
I suggest taking along nice reusable plastic plates like these or even better enamel dishes like these or what we do: keep buying nice old dishes from the secondhand shop .

Then you obviously need a blanket to site on. A summer version could look like this and a spring and autumn one like this.

So what to eat? Most important is a good cheese and if you eat meat maybe a really nice sausage. I usually buy a few different cheeses, sheep, goat and cow. Aged and young ones. Also very popular with us is fig mustard. But I still have to find a good recipe to make the mustard myself.
With this you definitely need some good crisps. My favorites are Tyrells. And a nice bread.
Now that you have the basics you can add a few extras. We usually do some vegetable salads - straight from the garden cooked on the gas cooker, but you can prepare them at home and take them along in big jars.

You can use whatever vegetables you like but our favorite is with sugar peas, peas, broad beans and baby carrots.

Blanch the vegetables - not too long, you still want them to be crisp. In a blender blend a good dollop of extra virgin olive oil and a handful of tarragon ( or dill or flat leave parsley or … ) and some malden salt.
Mix vegetables and herb oil and season with pepper and more salt if needed. Fill into a big glass jar and take along.
Another one I often take along is this potato and trout salad or this

If you make a fire you obviously have to grill some sausages, feta and haloumi cheese.

Don't forget the red wine and some glasses and off you go.

For dessert we often grill some pear & black chocolate breads. Just wrap some chunks of pear o apple and some black chocolate into pizza dough and but them on the grill. Make sure they don't burn. Grill them on the side of the fire or when it's about to go out.

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Kitchen Still #9

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Monday classes february

This book was lying around for ages. I bought it before we went to vietnam - for a long time after we came back we wanted nothing but european food so I almost forgot about it.
It's a really nice book that is also fun to read. There's not so many inspiring Vietnamese cookbooks out there so I was really happy when I found this -  I definitely plan on cooking my way through it.

taste of vietnam
the taste of vietnam by bobby chinn

We probably were a bit over enthusiastic when we planned so we had a rather late but delicious dinner.
On the menu was:

Pomelo Crab salad ( we used carb instead of lobster which) page 96. I have to admit I had never eaten pomelo before and to me it was quite a discovery.
Shrimp paste on sugar cane , a Vietnamese favorite of mine we could find any sugar cane so we used lemongrass stalks. A great dish you can prepare in advance. Then came the caramelized fish , with this had had our problems. First we did not realize that the fish has to cook for 2 hours and also we either got something wrong with the proportions or the recipe is not really working. There was way to much sauce but it tasted really nice. We added a bit of chopped cilantro which made this dish rally sing. Dessert would have been a Pierre Hermé Belle helene but here we took the short way by then it was already 23h.

pomelosalad

shrimp on lemongrass

caramelized fish

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Monday classes

Janary

I don't know about you, but our bookshelf is overflowing with cookbooks (ok to be fair it's primarily overflowing with Records).
Anyway, there's a certain amount of guilt involved when I buy a new cookbook because I know there's books and books with uncooked recipes at home. I've read all my cookbooks but I could probably cook for the rest of my life with the recipes I have sitting on the shelves.

I want to try out the recipes, but when we have guests I most of the time prefer to cook something I've done before because I'm more relaxed and this means I actually spend more time with our guests. Working close to 100% I don't just cook something new on a Wednesday, foremost because my cookbooks are at home ( most of them ) and I am in the office.

This is why myself and few girlfriends started Monday Classes. Once a month we meet to cook from our cookbooks. We try new recipes and techniques, we drink and chat and sometimes we even knit.

Here I will share impressions and let you know which recipes and books are worth buying and trying.

We started in January with the Ottolenghi. This was on the menu:

Bittersweet salad  (Plenty page 162) and green pancakes with lime butter (Plenty page 150). For dessert we had an apple crumble.

M Januar

B Januar
The salad looks lovely and tastes nice and bitter. The rose water gives it a nice unexpected twist.

bittersweet salad

The green pancakes are proper comfort food perfect for a weekday dinner or a light summer dinner eaten on the balcony after a long and sunny day. The lime butter that goes with is is delicious and I will use it for other dishes as well. It's actually worth having a pot stored in the refrigerator…

grenn pancakes

A very good looking light dinner .

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